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Cristiano Ronaldo has tried to backtrack on his criticism of Real Madrid team-mates.
The 30-year-old criticised a host of his team-mates after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid at the Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.
Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe all missed the defeat and, speaking after the game, Ronaldo said it was “not the same” playing with the players that replaced the first team regulars.
"I'm not saying the others like Lucas [Vazquez], Jese and [Mateo] Kovacic are not good players - they are very good players - but it's not the same.
"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win. I like to play with Karim, with Bale, with Marcelo.
"If we were all at my level, maybe we would be leaders. For all you [journalists] it seems I am s***, but I don't listen to what the press say. The statistics and numbers don't lie."
However, the Portuguese international has since backtracked on his comments and said he was talking about fitness rather than quality.
"When I said this I was referring to my level of fitness, not play,” Ronaldo told Marca.
"I am not better than any of my teammates."
The clarification from Ronaldo came too late for club captain Sergio Ramos who spoke out to defend the quality of the Real squad.
"We are proud of everyone that is part of the squad and the work of all the players that get fewer minutes on the field," he said.
"Players like Lucas Vazquez, Jese Rodriguez or Borja Mayoral are giving everything because they know how hard it is to get their chance here.
"But Cristiano is free to offer his opinion.”